Betty Boop is an animated cartoon character created by Max Fleischer, with help from animators including Grim Natwick. She originally appeared in the “Talkartoon” and “Betty Boop” film series, which were produced by Fleischer Studios and released by Paramount Pictures. She has also been featured in comic strips and mass merchandising. Despite having been toned down in the mid-1930s as a result of the Hays Code to appear more demure, she became one of the best-known and popular cartoon characters in the world.
Betty Boop made her first appearance on August 9, 1930, in the cartoon “Dizzy Dishes”; the sixth installment in Fleischer’s Talkartoon series. Although Clara Bow is often given as being the model for Boop, she actually began as a caricature of singer Helen Kane. Max Fleischer finalized Betty Boop as a human character in 1932, in the cartoon “Any Rags”. Her floppy poodle ears became hoop earrings, and her black poodle nose became a girl’s button-like nose. Betty Boop appeared as a supporting character in 10 cartoons as a flapper girl with more heart than brains. In individual cartoons, she was called “Nancy Lee” or “Nan McGrew” – derived from the 1930 Helen Kane film “Dangerous Nan McGrew” – usually serving as a girlfriend to studio star, Bimbo.
Betty’s voice was first performed by Margie Hines, and was later performed by several different voice actresses, including Kate Wright, Bonnie Poe, Ann Rothschild (also known as Little Ann Little), and most notably, Mae Questel. Questel, who began voicing Betty Boop in 1931, continued with the role until her death in 1998. Today, Betty is voiced by Tress MacNeille, Sandy Fox and Tara Strong in commercials.
Betty Boop is regarded as one of the first and most famous sex symbols on the animated screen; she is a symbol of the Depression era, and a reminder of the more carefree days of Jazz Age flappers. Her popularity was drawn largely from adult audiences, and the cartoons, while seemingly surreal, contained many sexual and psychological elements, particularly in the “Talkartoon Minnie the Moocher”, featuring Cab Calloway and his orchestra.
The Betty Boop comic strip by Bud Counihan (assisted by Fleischer staffer Hal Seeger) was distributed by King Features Syndicate from 1934 to 1937. From 1984 to 1988, a revival strip with Felix the Cat, Betty Boop and Felix, was produced by Mort Walker’s sons Brian, Neal, Greg, and Morgan.
Betty Boop’s best appearances are considered to be in her first three years due to her “Jazz Baby” character and innocent sexuality, which was aimed at adults. However, the content of her films was affected by the National Legion of Decency and the Production Code of 1934. The Production Code of 1934 imposed guidelines on the Motion Picture Industry and placed specific restrictions on the content films could reference with sexual innuendos. This greatly affected the Betty Boop cartoons. Source: Wikipedia.